A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.
Temporary means that every project has a definite beginning and a definite end. The end is reached when the project's objectives have been achieved, or it becomes clear that the project objectives will not or cannot be met, or the need for the project no longer exists and the project is terminated. Temporary does not necessarily mean short in duration; many projects last for several years. In every case, however, the duration of a project is finite. Projects are not ongoing efforts.
In addition, temporary does not generally apply to the product, service or result created by the project. Most projects are undertaken to create a lasting outcome. For example, a project to erect a national monument will create a result expected to last centuries. Projects also may often have intended and unintended social, economic and environmental impacts that far outlast the projects themselves.
The temporary nature of projects may apply to other aspects of the endeavor as well:
The opportunity or market window is usually temporary—some projects have a limited time frame in which to produce their product or service.
The project team, as a working unit, seldom outlives the project—a team created for the sole purpose of performing the project will perform that project, and then the team is disbanded and the team members reassigned when the project ends.